WASHINGTON (December 8, 2005)– In a letter to congressional leadership, the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Policy urged final passage of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act.
"We consider this HOPE Act legislation a critical first step towards offering greater incentives for investment in Haiti," said Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando.
The bishop maintained the legislation "will bring encouragement to the long-suffering Haitian people."
The full text of Bishop Wenski's letter was sent to House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-MO) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). In the Senate, it was sent to Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). The full text follows:
I write on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to ask for your support in securing final House passage of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2005 ("HOPE Act").
The Haitian bishops tell us that their people are longing for the opportunity to work and to build a solid future for themselves and their children. During a Conference visit to Haiti this summer, I spoke with many parties concerned with Haiti's long-term political and economic recovery. These included leaders in the business community, the interim Prime Minister, members of the Conseil des Sages and representatives of the principal political parties. All agree that support for the struggling assembly industry is essential for the Haitian economy to grow. We consider this HOPE Act legislation a critical first step towards offering greater incentives for investment in Haiti.
Over these past few years, the people of Haiti have had to endure extraordinary civil unrest and violence. They have suffered as well the devastation of torrential rains and hurricanes. As they now move toward national elections, with the promise that a legitimate and effective government may at last usher in a period of peace and order, I pray that this measure, the HOPE Act of 2005, will bring encouragement to the long-suffering Haitian people.
We look forward to working with Congress in the future to explore further measures that offer the hope for the long-term stability that Haiti's people so desperately need and truly deserve.
With thanks for your leadership in this matter and with best personal wishes, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Thomas G. Wenski
Bishop of Orlando
Chairman, Committee on International Policy